51: Malaria

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The malaria party was David's idea.
Title text: The malaria party was David's idea.

[edit] Explanation

In this comic we see four Cueball-like children in party hats with a balloon lying on the ground. As it says their malaria party did no turn out to be fun.

Malaria is a Mosquito-borne disease of humans and other animals caused by protists (a type of microorganism) of the genus Plasmodium. It begins with a bite from an infected female mosquito, which introduces the protists, via its saliva, into the circulatory system, and ultimately to the liver where they mature and reproduce. The disease causes symptoms that typically include fever and headache, which in severe cases can progress to coma or death.

It plays on the idea of a pox party where adults bring their children to deliberately expose them to a virus to promote immunity. This is commonly done for a childhood disease like chickenpox. But for other child hood diseases this can now be replaced by vaccines. Some of these illnesses are more serious for adults than children. But after contracting chickenpox once (or any of the other childhood disease once), the immune system has developed antibodies for it and so is not vulnerable to the virus anymore the body has become immune (except in the case of shingles).

However, malaria does not work this way, but instead once one has suffered from malaria, it can recur on its own even after apparent healing from symptoms. So having a malaria party would not promote immunity, but only make people sick and further vulnerable in the future.

There has been allot of controversy over the MMR vaccine which works against measles, mumps and rubella. Whereas the last two are only dangerous to adults, and only because they can affect the abilities to have children, measles are a very dangerous disease also for children. In the US between 1987 and 2000 there were a 0.3% risk of a fatal complication. It can be much worse in underdeveloped countries. The controversy was based on a claim in an article that was later completely discredited. But this incidence has still caused many parents to keep their children out of this program.

So now parents deliberately take their children to measles parties like the Malaria party here. And although they may become immune if they survive (as opposed to malaria) then there is still a serious risk of death or other complications. And because of this lack of vaccination the advantages of Herd immunity that would else protect infants, the weak and those with a poor immune system from catching these diseases.

This may very well be Randall's way of showing what a "great idea" it is to expose your children (and thus also others) to potentially lethal diseases instead of taking the vaccine.

In the title text Randall attributes this idea to the unknown friend David. He did the same in 42: Geico and 100: Family Circus. He maybe wishes to wash his hands of this weird idea?

[edit] Transcript

[For Cueball-like children wearing party hats, a discarded balloon is lying to the right. The first part of the text is written above the children, the second below.]
We had a malaria party
but it turned out not to be very much fun.

[edit] Trivia

  • This was the 49th comic originally posted to LiveJournal.
  • This comic kept it's original title: "Malaria"
  • It is part of the last six comics on LiveJournal which all had a title without the word "Drawing" in it.
    • Five of these had exactly the same title on both sites.
    • Only 11 comics have the same title on both sites.
    • Apart from the thirteen first comics posted to LiveJournal, there were only three other comics without the word "Drawing" in the title before these last six.
  • Original Randall quote: "Current Mood: Credit to David for this one"
    • In this version he give David credit. In the title text it is more like he blames him for the idea.
  • This comic was one of the last 11 comics posted on LiveJournal.
  • For some reason 54: Science was posted before this one on LiveJournal on the 18th of January 2006, but first a week later on xkcd on the 25th of January 2006.
    • So 51: Malaria were released on xkcd the same day as 54: Science came out on LiveJournal on Wednesday the 18th of January 2006 .
    • It then came out on LiveJournal three days later on Saturday the 21th of January 2006.
    • The release date here on explain xkcd uses the first release date, so that is the one on xkcd.
  • After the mishap with 54: Science the next three comics came out on LiveJournal a release day later.
    • First with the last comic released on LiveJournal, 55: Useless, did the two sites release the same comic on the same day again.

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